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A torn ACL, a missed season, and a grueling recovery had Catholic Memorial’s Malachi Bryant questioning his basketball future. He’s found his answer.

With the healthy return of senior guard Malachi Bryant (14), unbeaten Catholic Memorial is against pushing the attack up-tempo.John Wilcox

It was Malachi Bryant’s last snap of the game.

Catholic Memorial’s football team was pulling its starters, well in control of a Division 2 state semifinal win over Marshfield in November 2021, when Bryant took the field for one final play, on kickoff coverage.

Bryant raced down the sideline as a blocker emerged from his blindside. He was hit in the shoulder, causing his left leg to bend outward.

“From there I just fell straight to the ground,” said Bryant.

Bryant felt he had twisted his knee. An MRI revealed he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus.

“It was mind blowing,” said Bryant. “I never thought the injury was that serious. It hurt even more because it was a week before basketball season.”


In one play, Bryant’s junior season on the hardwood was over before it started. He was supposed to lead the Knights at point guard after playing behind Globe Super Teamer Kurtis Henderson the previous winter.

“It was supposed to be Malachi’s breakout season,” said Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin. “He was going to run the team and be our best player.”

With Bryant sidelined, CM struggled to an 8-12 record, Tobin’s first losing season in his 22 years in West Roxbury.

Bryant was heartbroken. He was in pain. He struggled to get out of bed. He badly wanted to be on the court and help his teammates.

“It took a big piece out of my life,” said Bryant. “I don’t really like watching television or playing video games. I’m always in the gym or working out so not being active hurt so much.”

Bryant realized he had two options: sulk over his injury or attack the rehab process and return better and stronger. He chose the latter.

Jephte Soulouque, the head athletic trainer at CM, assured Bryant he would regain his speed and explosiveness. They soon formed a close bond.


They started by working on lifting his leg to a 90-degree angle. Then came strengthening. They walked, jogged, and lunged. Bryant visited Soulouque daily.

“He maximized how many days he could come in and get going,” said Soulouque. “He really started to see and believe what we were doing. Small victories started building up.”

Malachi Bryant is averaging 17.5 points through CM's first three games.John Wilcox

In May, Bryant was riding in the back of a golf cart when Soulouque told him it was time to run. Bryant held onto the cart, Soulouque drove at a slow speed, and Bryant ran for the first time since the injury. All the athletes practicing on the track cheered.

“From that moment on, he knew he was only going to get better,” said Soulouque. “He knew he could trust me.”

Bryant was cleared to return to the court in July. He played in summer and fall leagues before finally returning to high school competition for CM in its season opener Dec. 9.

The Hyde Park resident feels like his strength, mobility, and speed are back to pre-injury form. Soulouque was right.

Bryant, who isn’t wearing a brace, is averaging 17.5 points and 4.5 assists per game during CM’s 3-0 start. His shiftiness and speed have helped the Knights regain their up-tempo offense.

“He’s leading our team again this year, just like he would have last year,” said Tobin. “We love to play fast and he has returned the pace to our program. You never would have known he tore his ACL.”


The injury, however, set Bryant back in the recruiting process. An honor roll student, Bryant wants to play collegiately at the Division II or Division III level. A few programs have reached out, but for now he is an unknown commodity, making this season even more important for his future.

“I’m really trying to ball out this season to open up doors for me at the next level,” he said.

Malachi Bryant has recovered his quickness after nine months of rehab from an torn ACL.John Wilcox

Courtside chatter

⋅ Shortly before Thanksgiving, Randolph coach Kalon Jenkins was diagnosed with an illness that will keep him on medical leave through the season. With Randolph coming off a 23-1 season and a Division 4 state title in his 13th year at the helm, Jenkins handed the keys to longtime assistant Dan Kiser, who was named one of three Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association assistant coaches of the year last month and has the Blue Devils off to a 3-0 start, extending their win streak to 26 straight games. Randolph opened with a 70-62 win over Middleborough on Dec. 16, stormed back from a 9-point deficit in the final three minutes to edge Southeastern, 72-70, on Dec. 20, and topped Abington, 67-61, two days later. Returners Isaiah Michel, Dylan Swinton, and Cam Rainford have been the key cogs, with Michel netting a game-high 20 points at Abington and Swinton coming up with a steal to seal the win over Southeastern. “I’m trying to run [Jenkins’s] system as much as possible,” said Kiser, who first started coaching at Randolph in 2010. “He’s a tremendous coach. The big thing has been consistency over the years. Basically, we play man-to-man full-court pressure. Offensively, we basically teach guys how to play, not how to run plays, and he’s done a really good job of it.”


Newton North's Paul Connolly secured his 400th career win last week with a Bay State Conference victory over Needham.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

▪ Newton North coach Paul Connolly earned his 400th career win last Tuesday when his top-ranked Tigers defeated Needham, 68-43, in a Bay State Conference matchup . . . Lynn English secured a 94-68 nonleague win at Beverly Friday as guards Warren Keel Jr. and Tyrese Melo Garcia combined for 64 points and 18 assists . . . St. Mary’s went 2-1 on a trip to Davenport, Fla. for the Rumble at the Ridge Tournament . . . Franklin is headed to Kissimmee, Fla. this week for the KSA Orlando Holiday Tournament from Tuesday thru Friday.

▪ Burlington posted a video to its Twitter account Thursday of junior James Ellis bringing water to junior varsity players on the bench. The video went viral with over 625,000 impressions, 180,000 views, 5,000 likes as of Monday.

Games to watch

Tuesday, Central Catholic vs. North Andover, 7:45 p.m. — Central Catholic is off to a 2-0 start while North Andover upset Andover last week as these Merrimack Valley Conference teams meet in the first round of the Commonwealth Motors Classic at Merrimack.

Wednesday, Burke vs. Everett, 12 p.m. — Burke opened its season last Tuesday with a statement win over New Mission. Everett is coming off a loss to Malden. Both teams look for a big nonleague win in the BABC Classic at Cathedral High.


Wednesday, Taunton vs. Dartmouth, 6:30 p.m. — Dartmouth is 5-0 for the first time since 2008 as the Indians face a challenging test against Taunton in the first round of the Skip Karam Classic at Durfee High.

Thursday, Newton North/Newton South vs. Catholic Memorial/Tech Boston, 6:30 p.m. — The championship game of the Garden City Classic at Newton North could feature the No. 1 Tigers and No. 4 CM in an early season showdown.